The Evolution from EasyRent to Kiki
Formerly known as EasyRent, Kiki has emerged as a promising subletting startup, aiming to pair listers with potential renters for durations up to six months. The company recently celebrated a significant milestone by securing a $6 million seed round, as shared by co-founder Toby Thomas-Smith.
Venture Capital’s Vote of Confidence
Blackbird Ventures took the lead in the funding round, contributing $4.5 million, marking it as one of their most substantial seed investments. The round also saw participation from a diverse group of tech industry veterans, including former Airbnb executive Harry Uffindell, Facebook Marketplace’s founder Bowen Pan, and several former executives from Bumble, Canva, and Uber.
Addressing the Gap in Short-Term Rentals
Kiki’s primary target audience comprises individuals who frequently travel and wish to sublet their spaces without incurring rental losses during their absence. Unlike platforms that cater to investment landlords, Kiki focuses on everyday individuals, ensuring that local communities benefit financially.
The Dating App Twist: Making Matches More Personal
Drawing inspiration from dating apps, Kiki employs a unique matching system that pairs listers and renters based on shared interests and preferences. This approach aims to foster trust, especially for those new to the idea of subletting their homes. To further enhance the trust factor, Kiki has adopted an invite-only model, where users need to link their Instagram accounts to gain access, ensuring a community of verified and vouched-for members.
User-Centric Features for Enhanced Experience
Kiki’s platform boasts features reminiscent of popular dating app Hinge, offering prompts that allow renters to share more about themselves. Listers can set specific criteria for their listings, ensuring a match that aligns with their preferences. Additionally, Kiki offers a comprehensive management feature, enabling users to track payments, manage security deposits, and e-sign sublet agreements seamlessly.
The Journey from New Zealand to New York City
Kiki’s origins trace back to New Zealand, where Thomas-Smith identified a gap in the short-term rental market during his university days and stint with Airbnb. The initial version, EasyRent, catered to students looking to sublet their accommodations during breaks. Following its success and expansion to Sydney, Australia, the company has now set its sights on New York City, with a planned relaunch this fall.
Expansion Plans and Future Aspirations
With the recent funding, Kiki is gearing up for a strategic expansion, starting with neighborhoods in New York City. The company has ambitious plans to roll out its services to the top 10 U.S. cities and eventually expand its footprint to 20 European cities by 2024.
Kiki’s innovative approach to subletting, combined with its unique matching system inspired by dating apps, positions it as a game-changer in the rental market. As the platform prepares for its New York City launch, it promises to redefine the subletting experience for both listers and renters.
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